Adviser: Canon XXI Is Silent


By Sue Careless

If the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod does not approve a revised marriage canon, it has not prohibited the solemnization of same-sex marriages, says the synod’s top legal adviser.

David Jones, Q.C., General Synod’s chancellor, sent a memorandum June 22 to all delegates. He reiterated this interpretation at a General Synod podium. Jones wrote that Canon XXI [PDF] “does not contain either a definition of ‘marriage,’ or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriages.”

He continued:

In the absence of a prohibition by General Synod against same-sex marriages, Provincial Synods have authority and jurisdiction with respect to “… the authorization of special forms of prayers, services and ceremonies for use within the province, for which no provisions have been made under the authority of the General Synod or of the House of Bishops of The Anglican Church of Canada: Section 7 viii) of the Declaration of Principles.”

In addition, bishops retain some inherent “powers, jurisdiction and authority”: Section 9 of the Declaration of Principles.

Just as the blessing of same-sex civil unions has occurred incrementally — more than one-third of the jurisdictions in the church now allow for such blessings — so same-sex marriage may be celebrated as various bishops or their diocesan synods allow such rites, regardless of General Synod’s vote this afternoon.

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